The Trump family circle once again issued another outrageous and deeply disturbing statement with the Donald Trump, Jr. Skittles analogy comparing the Syrian refugees desperately seeking asylum from the ravages of the war in Syria to the popular candies. As ridiculous as such a metaphor might sound to most people, the actual implications and historical connections behind these comments make them more menacing than humorous.
Donald Trump, Jr. – like his father – is no stranger to making offensive, racist statements whenever the mood strikes him. On this occasion, he implied that the Syrian refugees were a serious danger to Europe, regardless of how harmless – like Skittles – they might seem on the surface.
“If I had a bowl of Skittles and told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”
The absurdity of this statement helps to mask the fact that it is basically racist and xenophobic. More than this, it has deep ties in Europe to anti-Semitism and fascism in Germany. As pointed out by the Independent, these words almost directly mirror those used by a Nazi propagandist before and during World War II when describing the “threat” posed by Jews.
In a children’s book written by Julius Streicher – the infamous Nazi newspaper owner who was tried and executed at Nuremberg – we see words that are disturbingly similar to the tweet just made by Donald Trump, Jr., except Trump used Skittles instead of mushrooms.
“However they disguise themselves, or however friendly they try to be, affirming a thousand times their good intentions to us, one must not believe them. Jews they are and Jews they remain… Yes, my child! Just as a single poisonous mushroom can kill a whole family, so a solitary Jew can destroy a whole village, a whole city, even an entire Volk.”
Trump, Jr. is essentially saying that three Skittles – three Syrians – can kill a person, while his predecessor Streicher suggested that one mushroom – one Jew – could kill a family. It might seem reasonable to think that this is just a coincidence. Surely, Donald Trump’s son didn’t come by his Skittles analogy by lifting it from Nazi propaganda.
Unfortunately, there’s reason to think he may have. Donald Trump’s son has a habit of saying things that seem straight out of Mein Kampf. Only a few days ago, Trump, Jr. made another reference to Nazi-era Germany when he brought up the topic of gas chambers. Yes, it seems Trump, Jr. really is conversant in Nazi terminology and ideas.
Of course, the Trump campaign is more focused on the United States than Europe. Everything they say and do is meant for American consumption. So the Skittles comment also plays into racism in the United States, harkening back to the Trayvon Martin shooting in which the young man who was shot was only armed with a bag of Skittles.
But like the acorn, the fascist doesn’t fall far from the tree. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has himself – on numerous occasions – said things that make it clear his views are extremist when it comes to race, religion, and democratic processes. While in recent weeks, Trump’s campaign has made an effort to keep him from making “Skittles” comments of his own, the record over the years is quite clear.
Going all the way back to the early 1970s, we find a young Donald Trump struggling with the United States Justice Department because of his refusal to allow black people to live in the housing he owned. Ultimately, Trump was of course forced by the government to give in on this issue.
But even many years later, Trump has made his racist and fascist tendencies quite clear. As reported by NBC News, in February of this year Donald Trump retweeted a quote of Benito Mussolini. As bad as this was, Trump’s refusal to repudiate the quotation during a later interview on Meet the Press made it even worse.
In the same way, Donald Trump also repeatedly refused to reject the support of KKK member David Duke. During an interview, he pretended that he didn’t even know who David Duke was, despite the fact that he had previously mentioned David Duke in other interviews.
Many of Donald Trump’s proposed policies – from banning Muslim immigration to the United States to gathering millions of Mexicans up in “camps” so they can be sent out of the country – sound vaguely familiar to anyone with knowledge of 20th century history. The only difference is that the minorities in question have changed.
One of the things that demagogues and fascists tend to do when gathering power and supporters is to find a minority group they can blame for everyone’s troubles. The Donald Trump, Jr. Skittles tweet seems to be typical of the mindset of his entire family, and is almost certainly reflective of his father’s opinions.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]